Christopher McFadden’s early years with Gaoth Dobhair promised the world, but it wasn’t long before their earth stopped spinning.
He was a tender 20 in 2006 when Gaoth Dobhair were kings. Stephen Cassidy’s goal ignited the bonfires from Dunlewey. A Division 1 League crown, won against Glenfin that winter in Letterkenny, followed and the world was their oyster.
Picture: Christopher McFadden in action for Gaoth Dobhair against Naomh Conaill in the group phase of the Championship. Picture by Aodh Máirtín Ó Fearraigh
It was 11 years – until last year – before Gaoth Dobhair were back even in a semi-final and it has taken ’til now for them to cross the penultimate fence.
“Maybe the working hard part didn’t come after ’06,” McFadden says.
“We dropped off.
“There was a good crop coming in in 2006, but for some reason, it didn’t happen for us. You can’t take it for granted and you have to work hard at it.”
“You take it for granted at times. I’ve always said that I won’t leave the spot unless I see someone who can take it. I can see this year with the intensity in training that boys are fighting so hard. Boys there haven’t missed sessions all year and mightn’t even get a game.”
The Cnoc an Stollaire mechanic spent a couple of years in Australia from 2008, but ‘Ginger’ been an ever-present in the Gaoth Dobhair rearguard since returning.
“The crop we have now, it’s exciting,” McFadden says.
“Looking back, I came in at 20 and we had the likes of James Gallagher, Stephen Cassidy and Sean Diver – powerful players. The problem was that we didn’t have a lot of youth coming up.
“That crop of boys are a different breed. It’ll be there for them for the next ten years if they want it.
“These boys coming through are only playing seniors maybe two years. Three years ago, we were in a reserve final and a few of them played in that. You could say, if we don’t win it that we have loads of time, but that’s not the way to look at it now.”
Their 12 years since their last SFC win have seemed like an eternity.
It has felt like a different Gaoth Dobhair this time.
A new Gaoth Dobhair.
“We bought into a lot and we’ve tried to move things forward,” McFadden agrees.
“Every team has a set-up. You need it. This idea of man-to-man just won’t work anymore. You have to reduce the amount of scores you’ll concede and try get as much as you can going forward. It suits Gaoth Dobhair’s game.
“We have men with pace in abundance. Glenties have much the same set-up. They’ll sit back and try to hit us on the counter.”
McFadden is content to let his team-mates take care of the attacking business, noting with a wry smile: “if I get up to the half-way line I just retreat.”
The significance of being back in a final is certainly not lost on him.
He cane feel the hands of history calling and the controls of the destiny are in the palm of the 15 who’ll walk behind the band on Sunday.
McFadden says: “The parish has waited a long, long time. People there are just craving one more. Hopefully we go down that road with the Cup on Sunday night.”
Once more, they’re ready to go into orbit again.Tags: